CINCINNATI — Defensive tackle Geno Atkins bullrushed Raiders left guard Chaz Green, driving him into the backfield to sack quarterback Derek Carr for a second consecutive play and third time in the fourth quarter.
Little about the sight was surprising.
Except, perhaps, that it took so long.
The Raiders spent their Sunday managing a dire situation on their offensive line. Without their top three guards, they turned to a pair of emergency replacements, neither of whom was on the roster three weeks ago. The results showed during a 30-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
Carr was sacked five times.
Not until the fourth quarter did interior pressure result in one.
Early, it was rookie left tackle Kolton Miller who struggled, ceding a pair of third-down sacks to defensive end Sam Hubbard. Carr lost a fumble on the first one. Miller credited poor technique on both sacks.
During a key third-quarter sequence, Carr connected with wide receiver Jordy Nelson on a 44-yard pass versus busted coverage. Rookie right tackle Brandon Parker promptly committed a false start on first-and-goal at the 7. Miller followed with a false start on second-and-goal from the 3.
The Raiders (3-11) settled for a field goal.
They were without left guard Kelechi Osemele (toe), right guard Gabe Jackson (elbow, ankle) and top backup Jon Feliciano (calf, injured reserve). Jackson hadn’t missed a snap all season, but an on-field test of his left elbow Sunday determined he could not play.
So, Green and Dontrelle Good started at left and right guard, respectively.
This was Green’s 20th day on the roster. For Good, it was the 14th.
“I’m not going to single them out,” coach Jon Gruden said of the O-line play. “They (were) put in a very tough spot today, as tough a spot as I’ve ever called plays with, with a group of guys that are just getting to know each other. Cincinnati, I don’t care what their record is (6-8) or what the stat sheet says or what Pro Football Focus says. Geno Atkins is a problem. (Carlos) Dunlap is a problem.
“They got a very good front. They’ve had for a very long time. We’ve got a lot of moving pieces right now, and it’s not easy at this stage in the season to get everyone coordinated for 60 minutes.”
Green hadn’t appeared at guard in a regular-season game since Week 3 of 2017 for the Dallas Cowboys — 447 days earlier. His offensive snaps were his first of the year. He bypassed an opportunity to discuss his start and matchup with Atkins, declining locker-room comment from reporters.
Good last appeared at guard in a regular-season game during Week 10 of 2017 for the Indianapolis Colts — 399 days earlier. He did see work in 2018 at right tackle for the Colts, playing 119 snaps between Weeks 3 and 4.
“I was very comfortable,” Good said of his start. “This group brought me in and made me feel like family. I was very comfortable out there, for sure.”
The Raiders’ running backs managed 15 carries for 49 yards. Jalen Richard lost his second fumble in three games. Those struggles behind a porous line came against a Bengals defense that entered Sunday having allowed an NFL-high 148.1 rushing yards per game.
Cincinnati had little trouble establishing the run.
This helped it overcome injuries.
Running back Joe Mixon logged 27 carries for 129 yards and two touchdowns, salvaging his offense’s atrocious passing game. To call quarterback Jeff Driskel erratic would be polite; he completed 14 of 33 passes for 130 yards, one touchdown and an interception.
The Bengals were without top wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) and starting quarterback Andy Dalton (thumb). Both are on injured reserve. For good measure, their top remaining wide receiver, Tyler Boyd, was lost to a second-quarter knee injury.
Behind their line, the Raiders were unable to execute much with consistency, converting three of 14 third-down attempts. It seemed only a matter of time before Atkins, a six-time Pro Bowler, reached Carr in the backfield.
He did in the fourth quarter, three times over.